Leeds owner to fight league ban

Frank Dalleres
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LEEDS United owner Massimo Cellino has vowed to resist demands to sell the club after he was disqualified by the Football League.

League chiefs yesterday ruled that he had failed its owners’ and directors’ test in relation to a tax-evasion case in his native Italy.

Cellino successfully appealed his disqualification over the same case earlier this year, but the League believes it has new evidence that he has acted dishonestly having successfully applied to Italian courts for further details.

The 58-year-old, who has previously owned Sardinian Serie A club Cagliari, has 14 days to appeal the decision.

Leeds have argued that the move will needlessly destabilise the Championship club as Cellino would be free to resume control in March, when his conviction will be deemed spent under British law.

“I am not selling the club,” said Cellino, whose takeover was approved in April. “I just bought the club. And I want to protect the fans.”

Leeds said: “The steps that the League wishes the club to take – to remove Mr Cellino only to re-appoint him in three months’ time – will be destabilising for the club, its supporters and sponsors and cannot be in the best interests of any party.”

The row stems from Cellino’s conviction for failing to pay import duty on his yacht, for which he was fined around £400,000 in March. He also faces a second tax evasion trial, which had been due to begin in October but was postponed.